Without Angie Martinez, Hot 97 Loses The Face To Its Name

by Jason Francis

During what was an otherwise pretty regular day in New York, the hip-hop radio scene was hit with a seismic jolt that will continue to be felt for months, if not years to come.

With no warning, this past Wednesday, Angie Martinez, the longtime host of Hot 97's afternoon radio show sent an Instagram message to the masses that she was resigning and would be doing her final show that day.

Just like that, with no warning or time for the audience to catch its breath, the most consistent voice in NY Urban radio was up and leaving.

That was a sure shock.

It wasn't until later that evening, however, when the Internet dispensed the full news that Angie Martinez wasn't leaving radio completely (as many were led to believe), but rather, she was moving to Power 105, the rival station of Hot 97. In addition to that, she'll be hosting the noon show for Miami's The Beat, a sister station to Power 105.

Regardless of whether or not you were a fan of Angie, any New Yorker who has ever listened to hip-hop can't deny the place she has carved out for herself over 20-plus years of radio work -- not to mention, the inspirational groundwork she's laid for women in media, as well.

From announcements of triumph and celebration for the hip-hop culture to reports of social injustice and death, Angie has provided it all and with a calm demeanor that has endeared her to millions.

Yesterday, Peter Rosenberg of the Hot 97 Morning Show stated that this announcement was a "punch in the stomach," not in terms of attack, but in shock.

He said "Angie is our Derek Jeter," which is an interesting comparison to make.

As the Yankee captain and all-time great athlete is currently in his final season, I think it's important to acknowledge a distinction here. Jeter was the be all, end all for the Yankees and is retiring in the pinstripes. If he were like Angie, Jeter would be leaving to play with the Boston Red Sox, and with no notice.

There is an impact here that we must not overlook.

Of course, many media personalities have left the Hot 97 brand in the past. Prior to the creation of Power 105, Hot 97 had a stranglehold on the NY market; there was no equivalent station for hip-hop. Some hip-hop legends, like Ed Lover and Dr. Dre, saw their time come to an end due to management's decisions.

Some personalities, like Star & Bucwild and Miss Jones couldn't keep themselves out of trouble, which cut their time short.

Angie Martinez, however, has a spotless record. She is loved, connected and on top of her game. No one let her go too soon.

Yet, here we are with Power 105 looking like the Miami Heat who just acquired LeBron. How did they get this star talent to leave home?

Admittedly, joining Clear Channel Communications does increase her direct audience, but with all of the new multimedia options for receiving content, is there really a difference in today's world?

There has been a very loud, public feud between these two stations. Insults, jabs, jokes and tons of tough talk have been hurled back and forth since Power hit the scene. For quite a while, Hot 97 was in the top slot and never hesitated to let you know it.

The over-the-top, WWE-style rants of Funkmaster Flex have become legendary here in New York, but what now? Angie was the silent MVP -- never cocky, never crass, just consistently effective. Her position in New York hip-hop has not been lost on her and clearly, she knows the message she is sending with this move.

Yes, it is her right to advance her career and it's a beautiful thing to be able to do, but I can't help but wonder about the tipping point. Did Power approach her with an offer she couldn't refuse?

Was she considering full retirement and Power made a last-minute move? Were there internal issues at Hot 97, making it less desirable for her to work there?

On the heels of the station's debut season of reality TV, "This is Hot 97," who knows what was/is happening behind the scenes. The game has changed, though. Regardless of family talk, it's all about the dollar.

Will we look back on this as the moment Hot 97 started to fall, or is there a new age of prosperity on deck for the Emmis Communications crew? Only time will tell.

Photo Credit: WENN